On daughters and spotting the misogynists

What Mel Did - Daughters and misogynists
Image credit: Melinda Fargo

Notice where you are, what you are doing or who you are with when you feel like the best version of yourself.

The hardest part of being a mother for me wasn’t the baby years, as the safety of our child is completely within our gift – give or take. The hardest part was when the children grew into young people and I knew to my core one of their ‘friends,’ boyfriend, girlfriend or colleague really wasn’t on their side. (I always wondered how my own mother ‘just knew’ on meeting one of my friends for a millisecond that they weren’t really my friend. I guess squeezing another human being out of your vagina gives you that super power.)

Things get more complicated when your daughter is with a boy who really doesn’t like girls/women. It doesn’t take super powers to see the subtle (or not so subtle) ways he puts her down in conversation, or tries to embarrass her in any social setting where there is a compliant audience. A compliant audience being one who will not call him out.

By necessity, mothers can be members of that compliant audience because to intervene overtly can covertly damage the relationship with our daughter. This includes damage to them honing their own abilities to spot the wrong ‘uns, the misogynists-in-the-making.

And anyone who has trained teenagers will know that when anything becomes a ‘hot topic’ your voice can never again be heard on the subject without a lot of tears and recrimination.

Then I hit on a way to get their brains working about the person they are with. I found subtle and inventive ways to ask a fundamental question: “Great, can’t wait to meet [insert name]. How do you feel when you’re with him?”

Even if your child throws out a quick affirmative response, the subconscious of that beautiful, worthy and intelligent young woman you raised will set to work.

I was reminded of those years after posting the above foreword quote on Instagram today, and following drinks in London recently with two of my dearest friends.


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